Monday, 30 May 2011

Outside In - Maria V Snyder

Outside In – Maria V. Snyder

Pages: 326
Publisher: Mira INK (Mira Books)
Release Date: 18th March 2011

Other Titles by this Author: Poison Study, Magic Study, Fire Study, Storm Glass, Sea Glass, Spy Glass, Inside Out

There’s something outside.

It wants in.

I’m Trella. I used to be a scrub, cleaning the pipes and corridors of Inside. Then I found a whole world beyond the cube we live in and accidentally led a revolution against the Uppers. Now everyone is trying to figure out what happens next.

Except me. The fight’s over and I want my life back. I need to explore the new world I’ve found and work out exactly what’s going on with Riley, the Upper who helped me win the war.

But there’s something outside. And I need to step up. because once a leader, always a leader.

It’s coming.
Am I strong enough to stop it?

Outside In and its predecessor Inside Out are by far my favourite of Maria V Snyder’s novels. I love Trella and her world.

In the beginning of Outside In Trella summarises the events of the revolt and the Force of Sheep for new readers. And then Maria V Snyder does something that is completely genius: through Trella she directed readers to Inside Out by recommending that in order to properly learn the events you should read the file “ISBN 9780373210060”. Absolute genius, right?! It made me grin in awe.

For the first section of the novel I felt that Riley and Trella’s relationship moved a little too fast. It seemed a little out of place that Trella who is so untrusting and suspicious of everybody would just be instantly able to abandon this strong character trait for Riley jump feet first into a full on relationship with him. Though, now having finished the book, I realise that there was a period of time between the two novels that would have allowed them to grow closer and that Trella wasn’t completely comfortable with it anyway. By the end, I had every confidence in their relationship and what I wanted more than anything was for Trella to let Riley love her.

I loved all of the discoveries that Trella made about Inside and the nature of how it is run. Snyder has a skill with unveiling everything at exactly the right time and not overloading you with information. I do, however, wish I had been unloaded with information on their time scale. I still don't understand how that works and it’s actually fairly important to the novel so I think some of the urgency was lost for me. The discoveries, questions and decisions on who to trust outshone this though.

For me, the clash between the Outsiders and the Insiders seemed very brief. I realise that it was down to the nail for the characters as time was an issue, but I felt that it was brushed away very quickly. It was a little rushed. But minor issues aside, I’ve loved reading this series and I hope that Maria V Snyder will come back with more from Trella, Riley and Inside in the future. I know I’d be grabbing them straight off of the shelf if she did.

A huge thanks to Midas PR for providing a review copy.

Sophie

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Blog Tour: Life: An Exploded Diagram extract and giveaway (CLOSED)

Life: An Exploded Diagram is the latest novel from multiple award-winning author Mal Peet, who won the Carnegie Medal for Tamar and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for Exposure.

The book is a coming-of-age love story, set in Norfolk in the 1960s against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It has already received great acclaim from Patrick Ness and Anthony McGowan, and Walker have created a book trailer which was revealed on 27th May on Wondrous Reads along with the first extract, but you can also watch the trailer here, below!

You can read the second extract here, and the third extract will be placed on Writing from the Tub, on Sunday.



THE GIRL WHO ATE HIS HEART BUMS A SMOKE

Saturdays and Sundays were the busiest days for picking. Whole families went: mothers with toddlers perched in wickerwork child-seats behind the saddles of their bikes, men with boys on their crossbars and lunchbags over their shoulders. Clem and Goz stood up on their pedals, overtaking at high speed.
The picking had moved to an adjacent, much larger, field. There were two weighing-stations. Mortimer’s men were stretching a tarpaulin over a three-sided shelter made of hay bales. Even at this early hour the day was very hot, and the filled punnets of strawberries would need shade. The two boys pushed their bikes over the baking ground to the far side of the field, where a line of ash trees separated it from a shimmering expanse of ripening wheat.
“There,” Goz said, gesturing with his head.
One ash had lost its grip on the earth and slumped against its neighbour. In their conjoined shadows a few of last season’s bales had been overlooked. The boys parked their bikes there and stuffed their rucksacks into the spilt hay.
At dinner-time they returned to this den, away from the noisy mob, shuffling themselves into the narrowing shade. They unwrapped their sandwiches with reddened fingers.
“Wanna swap one?”
“Dunno,” Goz said. “Wotcher got?”
“Cheese and piccalilli.”
“Cawd, no. Dunno how you eat that stuff. It’s like yellow sick.”
“Thank you very much, Gosling. I’ll enjoy them all the more for that.”
“My pleasure.”
They drank over-sweet orange squash from a flip-top Corona bottle. It was warm as blood, despite their precautions. Goz had a packet of ten Bristol cigarettes. They smoked, sighing pleasure. A segment of time passed.
A voice that was neither of their own said, “Give us a drag on that.”
They squinted up. She was wearing the same knotted shirt and short blue jeans as before, stained now, and a misshapen, big-brimmed straw hat that webbed her face with shadow.
Goz reacted first. He held up his ciggie and she stepped forward and took it from his fingers. She took a theatrical pull on it then stepped forward, pushed the boys’ legs apart with one of her own and flopped onto the ground between them, her back against the broken bale. She took another drag, with her eyes closed.
“I hope you don’t mind,” she said. “Daddy doesn’t know I smoke.”
Clem and Goz leaned forward and goggled at each other (Daddy?) and then, as one, took a peek down her shirt.
Goz found his voice. “Your dad? That’d be the Lord High Mortimer, would it?”
She laughed, snortling smoke. “God, is that really what they call him?”
She opened her eyes and looked at them in turn. There was a little slick of perspiration in the hollow where her throat met her chest. She smelt of sweat and strawberries and something like vanilla ice-cream.
“Some do,” Goz said. “We don’t. We’re communists. We’re making plans for the revolution.”
“Are you? Are you really? Is that why you’re down here away from all the other workers?”
“Yeah. People talk. You can’t trust anybody. There are informers everywhere. Walls have ears.”
“So do corn,” Clem said, and instantly regretted it.
“That was feeble, Ackroyd,” Goz said.
She turned to Clem.
God, her eyes.
“Ackroyd? Any relation to George Ackroyd?”
“Yeah,” he admitted. “He’s my old man.”

She studied him. He trembled with the effort of holding her gaze.
“Yes,” she said. “You look like him, come to think of it. I like George. He’s nice. Daddy thinks the world of him.”
“Yeah, well,” Clem said, thinking, She knows my dad? He knew she existed?
“So what’s your first name, son of George?”
“Clem. My ugly mate is Goz.”
The girl stubbed the cigarette out, carefully, on a patch of bare soil and pushed herself forward onto her knees. She looked around the field then stood up.
“Okay,” she said. “Thanks for the smoke. I’ll see you later, alligator.”
“Hang on,” Clem said. “What’s your name, then?”
“Frankie.”
“Frankie?”
“Short for Fran├žoise.” She pronounced it ironically, with an exaggerated Norfolk accent: Fraarnswaars.
“Cawd strewth,” Clem murmured, watching her walk away.
“Dear oh bleddy dear,” Goz said, sorrowfully.

You can read the next extract tomorrow on Writing from the Tub, tomorrow.

And thanks to the lovely people at Walker I have one copy of the book to giveaway. Comment on this post with your name and email address to win. Closes 11th June, 11:59pm. UK only.

Sophie

Sunday, 22 May 2011

In My Mailbox 83

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets.

For review:

The Pink Hotel – Anna Stothard

A seventeen-year-old London girl flies to Los Angeles for the funeral of her mother Lily, from whom she had been separated in her childhood. After stealing a suitcase of letters, clothes and photographs from her mum’s bedroom at the top of a hotel on Venice Beach, the girl spends hr summer travelling around Los Angeles returning love letters and photographs to the men who had known her mother. As she discovers more about Lily’s past and tries to re-enact her life, she comes to question the foundation of her own personality.

The Pink Hotel, Anna Stothard’s stunning second novel after the critical and commercial success of Isabel and Rocco, is a tale about finding love in the most unlikely of places, and how sometimes you can only know who you are by discovering who you are not.

Thanks to Alma Books for this. I can't wait to get stuck into it.

Troubletwisters – Garth Nix and Sean Williams

They felt a sudden pain in their ears, followed by a horrible, whispering voice that at first was so soft they could only feel it. But it grew louder, until it was the only thing they could hear, as if it emanated from inside their own heads.

++Come to us. Troubletwisters, join us...welcome, most welcome!++
 When their home suddenly explodes, twins Jack and Jaide sent to live in a place they have never heard of, to stay with a grandmother they have never met. Portland might seem like a quiet coastal town, but it soon becomes apparent that the strange things going on there are anything but ordinary.

Who is the mysterious Grandma X?
How come they suddenly have these strange new abilities?
And why won’t anybody explain anything?!

One thing is sure – the twins are going to find out exactly what it means to be troubletwisters...

A surprise from Egmont. Thank you!

Numbers 3: Infinity – Rachel Ward

Post-Chaos 2029

Adam, Sarah and Mia are living together, struggling with the fame of seeing numbers – the dates when people will die.

But something is about to tear them apart. During the Chaos, Mia swapped her number for another.

Suddenly her powerful new ability makes her a terrifying target.

Everyone wants to live forever...

I love this series! Thanks, Chicken House!

Bought:

Skellig – David Almond (signed)

Michael steps into the crumbling garage. What is the thing beneath the spiders’ webs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never seen before? The only person Michek can confide in is Mina. Together, they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael’s world changes forever...

I discovered my new favourite place in Bath: Toppings, where I found the most amazing variety of YA and a huge amount of signed books where I picked up a copy of this, which I’ve loved since I can remember. Seriously, if you haven’t read Skellig, you’re missing out.

Sophie

Monday, 16 May 2011

Flawless - Lara Chapman

Flawless – Lara Chapman

Pages: 255
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: 10th May 2011

Sarah Burke’s life is about to get complicated. She’s agreed to help her gorgeous best friend, Kirsten, catch the eye of the hot new guy at school, only to discover that he’s actually perfect for her! And to make matters worse, Sarah’s convinced that the guy of her dreams won’t be able to see past her unusually large nose.

Misguided matchmaking, hilarious escapades and genuine romance result in this sensational high school romcom.

Lara Chapman’s debut is a quick, cute read that’s perfect for sitting out in the sun with.

I’m a big fan of the original Cyrano de Bergerac story and I loved the other retelling I’ve read of the story, Cyrano by Geraldine McCaughrean, so I was really looking forward to seeing how it would work with a girl as Cyrano and set in the modern world. I thought it worked brilliantly well and was so natural that you’d be able to read it without knowing the original story and not lose anything at all.

One of the things that I enjoyed most about Flawless, other than the swoon-worthy Rock and the quirky, choke-on-your-drink humour, was the quotes that headed each chapter. Each one was a famous quote from Aristotle to Byron to Sir Francis Bacon about the nature and qualities of beauty that perfectly reflected the contents of the chapter. I really do love it when authors do that!

I have to admit though, that some of the passages and events made me cringe a little. There were some things I knew instantly would backfire and some particularly stupid things said by Kirsten that seemed to stretch believability a little too much for me. Other than that small issue, I really don't have any complaints.

Flawless is a thoroughly enjoyable read with a very happy and satisfying ending.

For my 2011 Debut Author Challenge

Sophie

Sunday, 15 May 2011

In My Mailbox 82

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets.

For review:

The Game – Krystyna Kuhn

Welcome to The Valley...

The famous Grace College, located in a remote valley in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, is an elite school for the highly gifted. To Julia and her brother, Robert, it’s the perfect place to hide.

But when Robert finds a dead body in their first week, they’ll learn they can only run so far from their past. And that The Valley has secrets of its own...

Die for Me – Amy Plum

My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything.

Suddenly, my sister Georgia and I were orphans. We put our lives in storage and move to Paris to live with our grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.

Mysterious, sexy and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies...immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

While I’m fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart – as well as my life and my family’s – in jeopardy for a chance at love?

Huntress – Malinda Lo

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, Kaede and Taisin are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly.

But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart for ever...

A huge thank you to Atom for the last three. They all look amazing.

Truth & Dare – edited by Liz Miles

Edgy, raw, real and funny – stories about slipping on the stepping stones of life

Girls and guys, straight or gay, striding or struggling – the characters in these tales will make you laugh and break your heart. Swinging between melting moments and dark disgrace, hilarity and tears, they bravely test life’s limits, search for big truths or simply seek that perfect kiss.

If you want to laugh and cry, then dip into these surprising, quirky and often hilarious tales of red-faced romancers, city stalkers, crazy parties, disappearing dads, mad aunts, embarrassing falls, shared secrets, mixed messages and, of course, yearning love.

Thank you, Luisa! I’m beyond excited for this. This anthology has some brilliant author contributors.

Sophie

Monday, 9 May 2011

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Divergent – Veronica Roth

Pages: 487
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 1st May 2011

One choice decides your friends, defines your beliefs and determines your loyalties...forever.

When sixteen-year-old Tris makes her choice, she cannot foresee how drastically her life will change. Or that the perfect society in which she lives is about to unfold into a dystopian world of electrifying decisions, stunning consequences, heartbreaking betrayals and unexpected romance.

One choice can transform you.

Divergent is an original and thrilling debut that is sure to be a hit dystopia fans. I loved it!

Veronica Roth has created a startlingly original and intriguing dystopian world that I got lost in easily. The idea of the five different factions – Dauntless, Abegnation, Amity, Erudite and Candor – is fascinating. I was desperate to know how they were formed and why. Although it wasn’t explicitly explained, it was casually slipped into the narration in a way that didn't take you out of the story that I loved. It was brilliantly and very cleverly created.

Tris is such a fantastic heroine. She is nearly on par with Katniss, to be honest. There isn’t a hint of perfection in her; she is flawed and very human. She doubts herself and her world, she agonises over her future and she’s strong and courageous. Honestly, heroines like Tris don't come along very often so I’m incredibly exited to see how she changes after the events of Divergent.

Other than the general awesomeness of this book, one of my favourite elements of Divergent was the chemistry between Tris and Four. The sexual tension between these two sizzled off of the page. I was desperate for something to happen between them every time they met and I began to look forward to their exchanges. I really loved the two of them together.

The use of present tense keeps the tension and the suspense of the story at the frontline. I was sitting on the edge of my chair for most of the novel and then I don't think I took a single breath for the last hundred or so pages! Veronica Roth throws you right into the heart of the action and doesn;t let you free until days after the last page has been turned.

I loved Divergent so much that it will easily make my Best of 2011 list and I’m now dying for what I’m sure will be an epic sequel.

For my 2011 Debut Author Challenge

Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy to review.

Sophie

Sunday, 8 May 2011

In My Mailbox 81

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets.

For review:

Flawless – Lara Chapman

Sarah Burke’s life is about to get complicated. She’s agreed to help her gorgeous best friend, Kirsten, catch the eye of the hot new guy at school, only to discover that he’s actually perfect for her! And to make matters worse, Sarah’s convinced that the guy of her dreams won’t be able to see past her unusually large nose.

Misguided matchmaking, hilarious escapades and genuine romance result in this sensational high school romcom.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for this. I’m really curious to read a modern retelling of Cyrano.

Does your face fit?: Poems about fitting in and standing out – compiled by Roger Stevens

Have you ever been the odd one out?
Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have?
Ever felt alone in a crowd?
Ever wondered why?

Sad, funny, raw and inspirational, this thought-provoking collection for teenagers tells it like it is.

With contributions from many of the best poets writing for young adults today, including Jan Dean, James Carter, Andrew Fusek Peters, Roger Stevens and Rachel Rooney.

Thanks again to Bloomsbury. I’m really looking forward to thumbing through this.

Ballad – Maggie Stiefvater

When his best friend, Dee, fell in love with a faerie, James realized she’d never feel the same way about him.

Trying to escape into music, James finds himself surrounded by more faeries than ever. Before he knows it, James is trapped in a dangerous game. One where the only way to win is to betray the one you love...

Thanks to Scholastic. I really need to read Maggie’s faerie books as I love The Wolves of Mercy Falls series.

Strings Attatched – Judy Blundell

“I only had one place to go. But maybe that made it harder to take the first steps towards it.”

Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City with a dream, no money, and a whole load of baggage. Fresh from her breakup with unpredictable, hot-blooded Billy, who’s now enlisted in the army, she’s looking for a fresh start in the glitz and glamour of Broadway.

Life in the city isn’t quite what Kit expected, however, as she struggles to make her mark in the cut-throat world of showbiz.

With her future looking uncertain, an unexpected helping hand comes in the shape of Nate Benedict , an eminent lawyer with rumoured Mafia connections – and Billy’s father. Suddenly, Kit’s dream of being a star is within her grasp...but at what price?

A novel full of life, deceit, intrigue and murder.

Thanks again to Scholastic. I’ve heard amazing things about her first book so I’m curious about this.

Blood Magic – Tessa Gratton (ARC)

My whole body shivered. I was about to find out if magic was real. The electric thrill of terror was sharp on my tongue. I cut deep.

Silla is damaged amd lost since the death of her parents.

Nick is the new boy in town with a chilling past of his own.

A mysterious sell book steeped in blood magic will bind Silla and Nick together.

But at what cost?

A huge thank you to RHCB for this. It looks so good!

Sophie

Friday, 6 May 2011

Poetic Ponders (8)

Thank you to the lovely Sara for this beautiful button.

During this year studying English Literature and Creative Writing, I’ve developed a new appreciation for poetry. With this in mind, I thought that I’d start a new weekly feature on So Many Books, So Little Time in which I share with you my favourite poems. They may be ones I discover on my course or ones I’ve loved for a long time.

Hopefully some of you will join me in sharing some awesome poems.

Love’s Secret – William Blake

Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart;
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears,
Ah! she did depart!

Soon as she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly
He took her with a sigh.

You’re all probably getting a little fed up with Blake now, but I just love his poems so much! This is a beautiful poem that I came across when looking up his poems that weren’t in my copy of Songs of Innocence and of Experience; and I like what I found.

Sophie

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Book Trailer: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater's stunning trailers for both Shiver and Linger are among my favourites and so I was eager to see what she would bring to the table for Forever, and I was blown away. Here it is:





You can pre-order copies of Forever at:
Fountain Bookstore
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository UK edition/US edition
Waterstones
Foyles
 
This post is an entry into an epic contest held by Maggie Stiefvater on her blog. Head over there to try and win some seriously awesome prizes.

Sophie

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Blog Tour: A Small Free Kiss in the Dark review + guest post

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark – Glenda Millard

Pages: 216 (ARC)
Publisher: Templar
Release Date: 1st May 2011

Other Titles by this Author: The Naming of Tishkin Silk; Layla, Queen of Hearts; When the Angels Came, Bringing Reuben Home, The Novice, and many more

From Goodreads: Two young boys, an old tramp, a beautiful teenage dancer, and the girl's baby--ragtag survivors of a sudden war--form a fragile family, hiding out in the ruins of an amusement park. As they scavenge for goods, diapers, and baby formula, they must stay out of sight of vicious gangs and lawless soldiers. At first they rely on Billy, the only adult in the group. But as civil life deteriorates, Billy starts to fall apart. Skip, who is barely into his teens, must take over and lead them on a search for sanctuary. This complex and haunting exploration of life on the edge and what it takes to triumph over adversity is a story about the indomitable nature of hope.

I went into reading A Small Free Kiss in the Dark with no expectations as I’d heard very little about it in the blogosphere. And it blew my socks off.

Skip tells his story, and I mean he literally writes his story and mentions the craft of his doing so, in a hauntingly beautiful way. Reading A Small Free Kiss in the Dark I noticed the artistic nature of Glenda Millard’s prose. Skip’s narration is poetic and stunningly beautiful. He has a way of looking at the world that intrigues me to no end. It’s like he sees the world through a foggy, dreamlike lens that distorts reality into a huge image of art and words.

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark is largely set in an abandoned fairground called Dreamland that is evoked so vividly that I felt if I just opened the book wide enough I’d be able to step through the words and take a ride on Skip’s pinto carousel horse. Glenda Millard uses metaphors, similes and imagery so, so artfully that I felt my bedroom walls dissolve around me as I read. Just astonishing.

As you may have guessed from my review so far, Skip was by far my favourite character in A Small Free Kiss in the Dark and was what made me furiously turn the pages. Some of the things that he said made me smile and my heart break simultaneously. He’s incredibly wise and perceptive for a young boy, and yet still so innocent and willing to give his all for those he cares for.

I adored this novel and if by reading this review one more person picks it up I’ll have done my job. Go read it now!

And now for a guest post from the woman herself:
 
Collecting caterpillars, metaphors and metamorphosis.

It's April and autumn in Australia. Early mornings are crisp and sunny. I've been for an hour-long walk in the Whipstick Forest under the blue-grey canopy of eucalyptus leaves, between the ridged black trunks of the Ironbark trees. Families of kangaroos and wallabies graze in adjoining paddocks. There's plenty of green grass – unusual at this time of the year. But we've had rain, too much of it in places.

Rosie, my daughter, is home from university in the city. By the time I got home she'd already put new blades on her car's windscreen wipers and was about to do some work in the vegetable garden. I asked if she'd had breakfast. She hadn't but said she'd like toast and tea in the back garden if I was willing. I was willing. Anything seemed attractive compared to sitting inside writing a guest blog!

The wood-fired oven is burning in the back garden. It's been burning since yesterday afternoon.We're getting ready to make sourdough bread, portuguese tarts, ciabatta and pizza. My sons and their partners are coming for lunch. They've gone fishing this morning – for redfin. They'll be hungry when they get here.

While I toasted bread over coals in the oven I told Rosie I had to write a guest blog – this blog – sometime today. After breakfast we walked slowly up and down the rows of broccoli with the sun on our backs, picking caterpillars off the lacy leaves and I confessed I didn't have a clue what to write about. Rosie suggested caterpillars. I laughed and moved on to the potted lime tree where I found a different type of caterpillar. He hadn't made holes in the leaves, he'd devoured them completely. He was almost as long as my little finger, black with beautiful lemon-lime markings. I showed Rosie and told her that despite the denuded tree I'd spare the caterpillar's life in the hope he'd metamorphose into a magnificent Swallow-Tail butterfly.

'So what will you write about?' Rosie said, reminding me I was supposed to be inside writing.

'Collecting caterpillars,' I said. This time Rosie laughed. But I'd just realised where small ordinary things, often taken for granted, can lead you. Caterpillars could be a metaphor for inspiration. And where might we find these wonderful creatures, but on the leaves of life.

In one of a series of novels I wrote for younger readers, there's a scene where the grandmother, Nell Silk, gathers her large unconventional family together to collect cabbage-moth caterpillars from the leafy-greens in the vegetable garden. It's not so much the activity but the togetherness that Nell and her family enjoy. Many of the other novels in the series refer to an outdoor, wood-fired oven, home-made bread and pizzas.

It's standard practice for me to empty my pockets after morning walks, to inspect the items I've collected on the way home. Often there are feathers, sometimes fallen nests, half-shells of hatched eggs, pretty pebbles, red leaves curled as commas. Ordinary things that feed our souls and give our stories fuel to burn brightly in people's imaginations when they read the words.

Caterpillars come in various shapes and sizes. Some have stunning decorations and others are so well camouflaged they're almost invisible. That's why we have to be observant, take our time, turn the broccoli leaves over.

In my experience, caterpillars usually don't give us complete stories. I once discovered one that resembled a newspaper heading, 'Urban Tribes'. I glued it into a scrap book and studied it for a while before I discovered it was really a beginning. It was what started me writing A Small Free Kiss in the Dark.

Another of the caterpillars I met appeared to be a man, but on closer inspection was the restorer of antique carousels. This and one that looked remarkably like a beautiful domed building provided me with settings for my story.

The metamorphosis of a caterpillar sometimes takes my breath away. Pennyweight Flat Children's Cemetery, a real place near the small country town where I was born, and one of the most melancholy places I know, was transformed from a sad green grub into a place of absolute peace for Tia, the troubled dancer in A Small Free Kiss in the Dark.

I should no longer be surprised by the potential of the ordinary for the sublime. But somehow I always am. There's a skip to my heartbeat each time I rediscover it. I have to stop now. It's time to cook pizza. But all the time I'm doing it I'll subconsciously be checking for caterpillars.

Make sure you check out the other stops on the A Small Free Kiss in the Dark tour.

Thank you to Templar Publishing for providing me with a review copy and organising my stop on the tour.


Sophie

Monday, 2 May 2011

My Soul to Save - Rachel Vincent

My Soul to Save – Rachel Vincent

Pages: 362
Publisher: Mira Ink (Mira Books)
Release Date: 18th February 2011

Other Titles in this Series: My Soul to Take, My Soul to Keep, My Soul to Steal (17/7)

When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies

So when teen pop sensation Enden croaks onstage and Kayless doesn;t wail, she knows something is dead wrong. Kaylee can't cry for someone who doesn’t have a soul.

Soon Kaylee finds that Eden’s not the only starry-eyed girl who traded her life for a flickering moment of fame – a deal that has dark consequences no mortal could understand.

Banshee Kaylee swears to help those lost souls. But school football star Nash – Kaylee’s newly acquired, not to mention super-hot, boyfriend – refuses to let her in harm’s way. Still Kaylee knows it’s her duty to save the innocent from the Netherworld – even if it means putting her own soul – and love life – at risk...

I was very excited to start My Soul to Save after loving My Soul to Take, and though I enjoyed it, it didn;t quite live up to my expectations.

My reading of this book followed the awesomeness of City of Fallen Angels and because of that I struggled to get myself involved in the story for quite a while. But I kept going back, and I am glad that I did as I really enjoyed My Soul to Save once I got stuck in.

Rachel Vincent has a seductive and almost hypnotic prose style in this series that I love. This pulls Kaylee, Nash, Emma and Tod off of the page and straight into your heart. Kaylee is brave and determined to use her bean sidhe heritage to help as many people as she can; often to her detriment; Nash is strong and absolutely gorgeous; Tod fascinates me and I’d love to know more about him and Emma is the kind of friend that I’d love to have.

For some reason, I find places such as the Netherworld completely beguiling. The wonder of a beautifully dangerous world just out of my reach makes my mind run away with possibilities. The dark and eerie Netherworld is one that I know I wouldn’t survive in for five minutes, but I really want to go there. The warped version of reality that Rachel Vincent has created is completely captivating and I really hope Kaylee goes back frequently throughout the series.

After the heart-stopping final sequence of My Soul to Save, I’m very eager to get my hands on the next instalment of the Soul Screamers series, My Soul to Keep.

A huge thank you to Mira Ink/Midas PR for providing me with a review copy.

Sophie